It was quite a week for Tracy’s Justin Philpott.
After his sponsor staged a stunt-theft of his No. 05 Chevrolet at the Aug. 13 races, video of the prank began to hit the airwaves nationwide starting the very next day. By Tuesday night, the Tracy High School junior found himself fielding telephone calls from ESPN and “Good Morning America.”
“It was crazy,” he said. “ESPN called my house to talk to me. I was freaking out — I didn’t know what to do.”
The Philpotts’ answering machine took care of the phone calls, but nerves kept Justin up until 2 a.m. He eventually got to sleep, because, fame or no fame, he had to deal with the first week of school — not to mention getting his car ready for the next race.
“It’s worn off a little bit, but it’s still there,” he said of the hectic week of instant stardom. “No other way to describe it — it was crazy.”
Despite it all, he might have wanted to trade it to be in Dave Byrd’s racing shoes Sunday.
The three-decade veteran from Pacific Grove added yet another NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing series victory to his resume, his fourth in a row and eighth of the season.
The top qualifier, Byrd worked his way up from a ninth-place start after race officials inverted the field, and overtook third-place finisher Benny Moon’s No. 10 car and second-place finisher and father-of-Justin David Philpott’s No. 50 car, both early leaders.
On lap 10, Philpott snagged the lead from Moon, who was disqualified after the post-race inspection.
The two-time Stockton 99 Speedway points champion held off Moon and Byrd until lap 33, when Byrd snuck past him in Turn 1, and Moon slid by in Turn 4.
Byrd was cruising to his eighth win when a Lap 48 caution and restart gave Philpott and Moon their best shots to take the lead. Byrd got a good jump on the first restart — too good, officials said, who called for another restart.
The second start was just as good — and legitimate. And while Philpott snuck into second, he couldn’t challenge Byrd.
“He got a two-car jump (with two laps to go),” Philpott said.
Drivers don’t give that up, unless they make a big mistake. And Byrd didn’t.
Philpott came as close as he has to claiming his second WLM victory at Altamont in 2006, but if he was disappointed, he didn’t show it.
“The setup was just a tick off,” he said. “We’ll get him.”
Scott Shade recovered from a scary early-lap spinout to take fourth.
Tracy’s Ryan Philpott looked to be back in contention for top-five honors after a solid qualifying round and a third-place finish in the trophy dash.
But something in his setup went wrong during the 50-lap main event. His car was swinging to the right coming off Turn 2, and he nearly hit the wall on an early lap.
“We got the car faster, but in the long run it’s still messed up,” Philpott said. “You can only do so much when the car’s handling like that.”
The problem with Philpott’s No. 52 Chevrolet allowed cousin Justin a bonus over his nationwide exposure.
The two relatives found themselves in a 15-lap shootout for fifth — a battle Justin finally won on lap 47. But right before the caution, Justin lost tire pressure and had to pull off the track. Still, the experience was worth it.
“To be able to pass my cousin Ryan — that’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” he said.
“Since I’ve started racing,” he said.
Some animosity returned to the Coors American Limited Stock Car series after months of usually-friendly racing.
Winner Mark Squadrito defended his line a little too strongly for the liking of points leader Matt Erickson of Ceres and Donnie Darter of Stockton.
One man’s “defending the line” was another man’s “blocking,” but race officials let it stand.
Tim Cardoza took first in Mini-Super Trucks, and in the lawnmower-engine powered Outlaw Mini Sprints, 14-year-old Michael Aldrich of Atwater took the checkered flag, lapping the competition by one and two-laps in some cases.
“I just used my head like my dad told me to,” he said.
• To reach sports editor Christopher H. Roberts, call 830-4267 or e-mail email@example.com